Startup

Startup Grind hosts Matthew Sheridan

When: Wednesday September 14th 2016 from 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Where: CoMotion on King at 115 King Street East, Hamilton, ON

Cost: $10 early, $15 regular

Register: startupgrind.com/events/details/startup-grind-hamilton-presents-matthew-sheridan

 

Agenda:

6:00pm – Networking and Food
7:00pm – Fireside Chat
8:00pm – Networking

 

Nix

 

Speaker – Matthew Sheridan (NIX SENSOR LTD.)

Matthew Sheridan hails from McMaster University with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechatronics Engineering and Management i.e. the modern discipline that transcends the boundaries between Embedded Systems, Mechanical, Electrical, and Computer Engineering and Engineering while integrating the technical education of the engineer with a business education for management

After founding and being the chief executive of Nix Sensor Ltd., Matthew has pushed the company towards awards such as the 2016 Award for Engineering Project of the Year by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and the Hamilton/Halton Engineering Week Committee as well as the David E. Mitchell Award of Distinction and the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Ontario Business Achievement Awards in 2015.

Nix Sensor is rapidly becoming a household name and a staple in the Hamilton community and beyond and Matthew is sure not to stop there.

 

Interview with Tasytt about new Obie Slackbot

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Check out the interview below with Tasytt (@tasytt) about their new Slackbot product Obie.

 

What is Obie?

Obie is a Slack bot. He’s kinda like Siri, but for business. He helps teams store and organize their collective knowledge.

 

What kind of features does Obie have?

His functionality can be broken into ‘push’ and ‘pull’. Users can pull information by asking questions and Obie accesses knowledge recorded in Slack, in your Google Drive, and on our web platform to answer them. Conversely, he can push knowledge using Flows, which are like task lists on steroids. Everything happens in a Slack DM. As an administrator, you can create a task list or lesson, then assign it to anyone (or everyone) on your team to complete.

 

Why did you decide to develop Obie?

Our mission has always been to help companies organize their knowledge and make it universally accessible and useful. We found that companies want to solve their knowledge problem, but they balk at introducing yet another software. They have countless point solutions for business problems and their knowledge is already fragmented into different platforms and cloud storage apps. They are quite simply tired of new software. Beyond that, most employees hate their LMS (Learning Management Systems) and the administrators hate managing them. And for good reason—they’re just an online binder with cleaner design.

So we knew that we needed to deliver information and the value you might find in learning software without more software. Users need to access the knowledge they need right away and without switching apps (and mindsets). Given all that, a Slack integration made perfect sense for us. It’s the default place where people spend their work days and they’re really working to make developer’s lives easy.

 

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Who is using Obie so far, and for what purposes? How has the response been to Obie?

We’ve had a great response so far, we were featured on Product Hunt and in Venture Beat and have been in talks with some larger companies who want to try it (although I can’t say whom). It’s the best feeling when someone just ‘gets’ it and loves your product.

Teams have been using it to plan for events, to bridge the gap on remote teams, to deliver lessons or refreshers, for checklists or to onboard new hires. Most people really like that Obie can search their cloud drive in addition to knowledge they ‘feed’ him—that way they don’t need to manually move all their content. Our most interesting use case so far has been wedding event planning, that’s something we never would have predicted, but in hindsight makes perfect sense!

 

What tools did you use to build Obie?

Our original platform was built with C# and ASP.NET MVC, but for the bot, we used the MEAN stack. We’re incredibly lucky that there’s a community of early bot developers and one team (Howdy) thought to create a framework for bot development as they went along, called Botkit. Botkit is written in Node.js.

 

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What was the biggest technical challenges with developing Obie?

Having a framework and community is great, but we were faced with a unique challenge: unlike a team building a bot from the ground up, we were connecting it to our already robust Tasytt application. We don’t want to diminish other bots and the developers behind them, but it’s one thing to build a bot that connects to a weather API or even one that connects to a database. It is quite different to build a bot, make it conversational, and connect it to both a database and web platform.

Our CTO Alex Sopinka had also never written a line of NodeJS, but since he’s a rockstar, he was able to build the majority of Obie in under a month. His protege Carolyn Chong, along with the rest of the team, did an amazing job testing and breaking the early Obie so that we could tighten him up and ensure he’s stable.

 

How can the local community help Tasytt make Obie a success?

If you use Slack, try him out and let us know what you like, hate or want to see! The majority of the functionality is free though we do have some premium features like reporting and analytics. It’s also a ridiculously simple setup process.

 

There’s been talk of chat being the “universal interface”. What are your thoughts on that? Do you see chat taking over more interfaces going forward?

There’s no doubt we’re going to see more bots and more companies choosing chat over a GUI, but we’re still very early on. Just like the first apps weren’t that useful, many of the bots out right now are pretty frivolous.

There are a few ways you can categorize bots: push vs pull; use of AI, ML, and NLP; standalone bot or counterpart to an existing app. There isn’t one combination that’s better, it depends what they’re trying to accomplish. A chat interface without NLP might work as a Calendar extension, but not for customer service. Unfortunately for bot developers, while being lean and working with an MVP is important, bots trying to ‘fake’ AI usually fail miserably.

 

tasytt-obie

 

Do you have any advice for startups in Hamilton?

Don’t let not being in the Valley, or even Waterloo, stop you from chasing your dreams. It doesn’t have to hurt your chances, but as soon as you modify your goals or let that become an excuse, it will.

 

Where are you hoping to take Obie next?

Right now we’re working on making it as easy as humanly possible to add information to a company knowledge base and access it right in Slack. Recording shorter form text is fairly simple, but we’re always cognizant of making it easy to attach rich media since most people find it easiest to learn from a combination of images, audio and text. Each piece of knowledge or step in a Flow needs to be short enough that people actually consume the information, but not so short that the medium becomes useless.

We recently implemented an upvote/downvote feature so you can help ‘train’ Obie. I’m also really excited about some of the newer NLP and the background AI that we are working on. I’d love to say more about that, but my business team won’t let me.

Later on, we’ll probably look into bringing Obie to other platforms: Facebook messenger, Skype, Telegram, Hipchat or Kik. The bot framework was designed to be fairly transferable to Facebook’s developer platform, but since companies are the primary buyer we’ll have to see if that makes sense.

 

REfficient Celebrates Customer Achievements during Earth Month

refficientHamilton, Ontario – April 20, 2016 – As April is Earth Month, REfficient recognizes that it is important to celebrate achievements, particularly of its champions. This year, Cogeco Connexion is acknowledged as an eco leader.

REfficient enables companies to be efficient with resources through their reduce-reuse-recycle concept. Products and materials that are reusable to others are sold, while the balance is recycled responsibly. As a result, companies get access to other business’ surplus inventory and materials, which can save a lot of money and get access to hard-to-find products.

Founded in 2010, REfficient now has a customer base in 14 countries that reused over 65,000 products in 2015. In 2016, REfficient has opened a warehouse store to give the broader public the ability to reuse products and materials outside of the traditional industries and uses, outside of the industries where they came from.

In the last three years, Cogeco has topped the Waste Diversion Champions list, diverting more than 100,000lbs annually from landfill through resale for reuse and recycling. They have also demonstrated an ongoing commitment to measure their sustainability stats and report on it both to the highest levels with their company and externally to customers and other stakeholders. “Cogeco is a great example of a sustainability leader. They care about it, include it in their processes and value the statistics. If only all other companies could be as forward-thinking like Cogeco,” says Stephanie McLarty of REfficient.

Working alongside partners like Cogeco, REfficient continues to support innovative ways that take the reduce-reuse-recycle and make a broad positive impact. A portion of proceeds from the product coming in through the Community Investment Program streamis donated to non-profits that address sustainability, entrepreneurship, and the local community. For Earth Day 2016, REfficient has made financial and product donations to Good Shepherd and Wildlife Preservation Canada.

About REfficient

REfficient’s transactional marketplace is built on a “triple-win” model, providing large companies a trusted and efficient way for deriving value from surplus inventory, while offering buyers reliable, often new equipment at savings of 20-50% over traditional sources. This innovative new green model benefits everyone by reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency. You can follow REfficient at @REfficient and www.facebook.com/REfficient.

Media Contact
Elena Doy
REfficient
905-544-5000 x5002
Elena.doy@REfficient.com

QReserve launches at Hamilton Health Sciences

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Hamilton, Ontario, December 17, 2015 — QReserve is excited to announce the launch of their research collaboration portal at Hamilton Health Sciences with over 100 pieces of equipment and services available for collaborations between industry, academics and researchers.

QReserve provides an unprecedented window into the research resources available at Hamilton Health Sciences while helping administrators to track and better understand research asset utilization.

“We are always looking for ways to help our researchers form new collaborations and QReserve’s collaboration portal makes it even easier for potential collaborators to see our capabilities and to connect with us”, says Hamilton Health Sciences’ Director of Research Admin, Katie Porter.

She adds, “I see QReserve not only as a collaboration tool, but also a great administrative tool for tracking research assets – very helpful when applying for funding and for demonstrating the return on research investments.”

Hamilton Health Sciences is joining QReserve’s research portal containing over 4,500 research resources, services and facilities across Canada.

Find your next collaborator through the Hamilton Health Sciences QReserve portal at http://www.hhsresearchadmin.ca/partnership-collaboration/qreserve.

 

About QReserve Inc.

QReserve Inc. was founded in 2014 to help organizations better utilize their assets and to help people form new collaborative relationships. QReserve’s integrated asset management and collaboration platform is available for both public use and internal private use. QReserve operates out of the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ontario and received support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, FedDev Ontario, and Industrial Research Assistance Program.

Interview with BuckitLife CEO Doug Murphy

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Check out the below interview with Doug Murphy CEO of BuckitLife (@BuckitLifeInc)!

 

What is BuckitLife?

BuckitLife is the online marketplace for bucket list adventures – Skydiving, Dog Sledding, Party on a Yacht, etc… With BuckitLife.ca you can discover 1000s of adventures, build your bucket list, invite and plan with friends, and purchase the adventures – all in one spot!

 

 

Why did you create BuckitLife?

In 2011, Eric and I lost our friend Kevin at age 21. This event deeply inspired us to go out and achieve our bucket list aspirations now. This inspiration came from our newfound appreciation for the fact that we don’t always have the time we may think we do. Unfortunately, finding, planning, and purchasing the adventures we wanted turned out to be an extremely time and effort intensive process, because the local adventure industry was very fragmented. Although marketplaces existed for adventure travel (like Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Trivago), there was nothing that did this effectively for local adventures like skydiving, dog sledding, and target shooting.

 

What sorts of adventures are on the BuckitLife platform currently?

There are too many to mention, but here are a few – Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, Dog Sledding, Exotic Car Driving/Rental, Group Travel, Animal Experiences, Target and Trap Shooting, Off Roading, Flyboarding, etc… We will be giving away some of these (along with many other prizes) at our Launch party – Feb 25th @ The Honest Lawyer.

 

How many adventures are on the BuckitLife platform?

Right now we have approx 60 adventures posted, but have over 1000 approved and are uploading more daily. We should have over 1000 by the end of the month (January).

 

What’s the most common thing you’ve seen people have on their bucket list?

Bucket lists are pretty unique by nature, but Skydiving is definitely a very popular adventure.

 

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What’s the next thing you plan on scratching off your own bucket list?
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My next adventures are Skydiving, Dog Sledding, and exploring in Thailand (ironically)

 

How do you monetize BuckitLife?

Adventure providers pay us a commission when we sell one of their adventures

 

Are there any adventures you’re hoping to add to the platform in the future?

There are MANY, but some on the top of our list include unique local adventures like the CN Tower Edge Walk.

 

Where do you hope to see BuckitLife in 5 years?

We hope to see BuckitLife as a global company, inspiring and supporting the realization of dreams in as many places, and with as many people as possible.

 

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What advice do you have for students and recent alumni founding a startup?

Take advantage of the amazing programs that Hamilton, Ontario, and Canada has to offer. Besides that, trust your gut (cliché, but for a good reason).

 

How can people in the Hamilton community help you make BuckitLife a success?

The can help us and themselves at the same time by a) creating a bucket list on BuckitLife.ca and living life to the fullest b) Coming to our launch party on Feb 25th @ The Honest Lawyer

 

Mabel’s acquisition a great sign for the region

Due to website upgrades happening last week, I was late to the game posting one of the bigger pieces of tech news to happen in Hamilton: Mabel’s Labels was acquired for $12 million.

It’s a big deal.

Why?

Startup exits (acquisitions, IPOs), along with financing, are one of the key ways startup ecosystems are measured.

For example this Kauffman Foundation report on “Measuring an Entprenerial Ecosystem: “In some places, the desired outcome is simply more: more entrepreneurs, more companies, and more jobs. For other cities, the only thing that matters is the “exit”—initial public offerings and acquisitions.

Or this TechVibes article: “Canada’s startup ecosystem tends to measure success with financings and acquisitions. Since Angel and VC financings often go unreported, it’s easier to track the state of the Canadian Startup space on acquisitions and exits.”

 

measure

Source: blog.compass.co

 

Acquisitions show that “it can be done” in a region, acting as a signal to the outside world (investors, founders, talent), and overtime enough acquisitions will create groups of people able to invest in and advise the next wave of startups.

Hopefully the Mabel’s Labels acquisition is the start of many more to come in the future.

 

greenplate

Interview with Greenplate.co founders

Check out the interview below with Hamilton startup Greenplate.co, and register to see Greenplate.co demo’d live at DemoCampHamilton22 on Wednesday October 7th from 6:30pm – 9:00pm at The Art Gallery of Hamilton!

 

Tell me about yourself.

McMaster grads: Ken Seville (B.A.: Poli. Sci., 03), Matt Nelson (B.Eng, Software, 13)

We met playing on the same softball team (3-16-1) and have been working together since July.

 

What is Greenplate.co?

Greenplate is an online marketplace of home-cooked meals. It offers an alternative to cooking for oneself or eating restaurant takeout.

 

greenplate

 

Why did you create Greenplate.co?

I don’t enjoy cooking and I’m sick of eating restaurant takeout.

 

How did you get the idea for Greenplate.co?

I had the Greenplate idea while walking home after work and thinking about what to have for dinner. It occurred to me that people were cooking family dinner in the houses I was passing, and I asked myself “what if I could know what they were making and buy a serving for takeout?” I asked others what they thought of the idea, and the response was so enthusiastic, that I knew I had to get working on it immediately.

 

How will you monetize the service?

We charge a markup (tbd) above the seller’s price.

 

How are you planning on marketing Greenplate.co?

To this point we have done all face to face marketing at events and door to door canvassing. As we go on we will do more media marketing.

 

What has the response been like so far to Greenplate.co?

Great. Most people recognize that eating reasonably healthy pretty much only happens with home-cooked meals, and yet, most people just have the time to cook every day, Greenplate solves that tension.

 

Who do you picture using Greenplate.co?

We’re initially focused on Mac students. Our reasoning is that we’ve got more than 10K students living away from home, with limited cooking skills, and not a lot of time to learn. In addition, they are spending ~50% of their food budget out of home, so they are a good fit for our service.

 

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How long did it take to build Greenplate.co?

Took about 3 months to get it to this point.

 

What have you learned so far building Greenplate.co?

Scratching one’s own itch makes telling the story much easier.

 

Where do you hope to see Greenplate.co in a year?

We want to perfect our model at Mac (and potentially Mohawk) this year. If we see the metrics we think will make it scalable, we will actively expand for the next school year.

 

Any advice for entrepreneurs trying to create similar products?

It’s certainly not my advice, but it’s good advice, figure out the smallest thing you can build that creates value for the customer (feels like a better deal than alternatives) and iterate the hell out of it. The temptation is always to build bells and whistles, but just keep it simple to start and improve as fast as you can.

 

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Sports analytics centre a possibility for Hamilton

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During the Pan Am Games CHCH covered a story on the possibility of a sports analytics centre opening up in Hamilton, check it out below:

Brazilian businessman Richaro Sodre has announced that he is moving his business from Waterloo to Hamilton. Sodre is creating technology that examines and analyzes how athletes move. The plan is to create a sports analytics centre of excellence, which could generate billions annually in economic activity. Local entrepreneurs like Ron Foxcroft are on board to create the centre and make it a leader of sports technology around the world. Investment consultant Harjeet Bajaj says, “Similar to Quantum Valley which is in Waterloo, or life sciences clusters in Toronto or digital media zones in places like Vancouver I think the sports analytics industry deserves a home as well.”

 

 

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FOOD & WINE Festival chooses OverAir as technology provider

TFW15_Logo_smallerJune 17, 2015 – Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival attendees will have more time to enjoy the delectable food, wine and spirits, celebrity chefs and cooking classes, thanks to a faster, more efficient ticketing and payment process.

OverAir Proximity Technologies Ltd. has been chosen as the official payment and ticketing technology provider of the Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival, Sept. 18 to 20, 2015. OverAir’s system will improve the vendor experience and simplify the sample ticket redemption process for visitors.

“We are delighted to be a part of this exciting event that celebrates the best in food, wine and spirits,” said Marie Pavone, OverAir’s Director of Event Solutions. “We look forward to simplifying and speeding up registration and payment so that attendees can focus on the food, drinks and fun.”

OverAir will replace traditional paper sample tickets with NFC “tap” technology. With their festival-branded wristband powered by OverAir, attendees can pre-register and load their wristband with virtual “sample tickets” online. They can also register and load their wristband in just seconds at designated stations at the festival. When needed, they can also quickly reload their wristband with more tickets.

To pay for samples, attendees will simply tap their wristband to a device at each vendor booth. Festival organizers will be able to track and analyze in real time who is visiting which booths, when and how often. This will help with planning for future shows and marketing campaigns.

What is NFC tap technology?

Near field communications (NFC) allows the transfer of information between NFC enabled devices. Since its inception in 2012, OverAir Proximity Technologies Ltd. has been leveraging technology to enable clients to more simply and effectively engage and sell to their customers. At a previous consumer food show, OverAir sped up ticket sales from seven minutes to under 43 seconds and increased sales by 211% by reducing lineups. OverAir’s event solutions also include registration, instant information transfer between attendees and exhibitors, automated contact swap as a networking tool, secure voting, surveys and post-show engagement. This all adds up to streamlined events, audience engagement, positive brand recognition and higher profits.

Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival

Thousands of attendees are expected at Toronto FOOD & WINE Festival taking place at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto from Sept. 18-20. FOOD & WINE magazine is the official media partner and is continuing its legacy of festivals across North America with the first Canadian installment here in Toronto. The Grand Tasting Pavilion presented by PC Black Label will feature local restaurants, wineries and breweries. The festival will include a roster of celebrity chefs, cooking classes, tutored tastings and special events that bring the world of food, wine and spirits to local palates. For more information about Toronto FOOD & Wine Festival please visit www.torontofoodandwine.com.

For information, please contact Marie Pavone, Director of Event Solutions, OverAir Proximity Technologies.

Phone: 1-855-OVER-AIR (683-7247), ext. 704
Email: marie@overair.ca